TOOLKITS TO EDUCATE, TRANSFORM AND HEAL
Over the past decade, Black Women's Blueprint team members have created numerous toolkits that address and support the work we do. We offer these to our community as inspiration, education and tools for healing and transformation.
In collaboration with Eve Ensler for her book, The Apology, and in response to the question, What is an apology?, Farah Tanis, co-founder and Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint, created this toolkit, designed to help survivors and their allies grapple with the idea of reckoning and apology.
The Right to an Apology: Survivors have the right to an authentic apology for the violence and pain wrought on their bodies, minds, spirits.
What then is the work we need to do as we become more survivor centered and trauma informed and begin to make Afro-futuristic visions manifest for taking back our lives and owning our rage and moving through it and healing from it? For Black women, we know too well and are often trained and pushed by our spiritual communities into forgiving and just surviving. Even as girls we are conditioned to protect those who do us harm. We know that forgiveness is an individual and complex process, even when it is communal. It is a multi-layered process requiring profound meditative and a conscious series of decisions, as well as inner and outer confrontations. However, as we think of moving more boldly and bravely into a future; I dare wonder whether we should enter into more authentic dialogue with each other and with harm-doers as human beings, who need to be asked about solutions and who also need to be given the opportunity to speak of what could or should have been different in their lives.
PROTECTING EVERY CHILD:
Ending Child Sexual Abuse
In a truth and reconciliation survey conducted by BWB, we learned that 60 percent of Black girls in this country have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of black men before reaching the age of 18, yet the vast majority of incidents go unreported. Seven years ago, a similar study by the Black Women's Health Imperative found that number was closer to 40%. According to the Child Molestation Prevention Institute one of every five little girls and at least one out of every ten little boys are victims of a sexual abuser.
Far more men than women are abusers. In fact, approximately one out of 20 men, and approximately one out of 3,300 women are sexual abusers of children. We also know that approximately 40% of Black and African American women nationally report coercive contact of a sexual nature before they even reach the age of 18.
The lack of attention and awareness on these staggering statistics is especially derived from the culture of silence about sexual violence in Black and African American communities. Such silence often functions as a protective shield against further discrimination and vilification of Black men in a world where police are killing young Black men and women, and where the “second highest form of police misconduct is sexual violence” (Cato Institute). Young Black survivors negotiate seeking justice and healing for their experiences at the intersection of race, sexuality, class and gender and often strive to adhere to codes of loyalty and protection of communal/community relationships instead of reporting due to pressing threats predicated on historical disenfranchisement and marginalization. Within African American and Black immigrant families, limited conversations with children about human sexuality can also send a more general message that sexuality is taboo, making it virtually impossible for victims of sexual abuse to feel comfortable disclosing their abuse, especially if the abuser is a member of the child’s social network. There is also a tendency in these communities to point to systemic failures experienced by the offender that immobilize communities and families from taking even the most basic steps to preventing child sexual abuse at the familial or communal levels. Such silence and lack of action creates the perfect storm for new cases of sexual assault to proliferate.
The Bystander Mixtape's curriculum embodies the spirit and language within communities that want to activate accountability for those who struggle with intervening in potentially violent situations due to a cultural value system. This curriculum was designed to deconstruct the mindsets of being a “snitch” or “minding your own business” while placing the sanctity and safety of a life as the first priority.
Within the African American community, it is not the first thought to be an interventionist due to the potential negative ramifications within the community. However, this training will help to realign the need for Black Men to take a more aggressive stance against patriarchy, abuse and other acts of violence performed within our communities especially against our Black Women, Trans Women, and Gender Non-Conforming population.
Those who participate in this training, often leave with a burden to be their brother or sister’s keeper, holding their friends and partners accountable for potentially reckless behavior, and the desire for a safe a healthy community on campus, at home or in their workplace.
BEYOND LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION:
Surviving R. Kelly Viewing Parties
Beyond Lights, Cameras, Action and Surviving R. Kelly Viewing Parties, is a critical intervention and companion to the docu-series that provides communities guidance and expertise on sexual violence, intra-communal violence, accountability, child sexual abuse, and speaking with survivors. The guide models how to create and be in community of care for survivors as an audience, how to bear witness to the sacred stories and testimonies of Black women survivors and their families. How to center Black girls who might be watching and respond when survivors disclose. How to educate family and define sexual violence.